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Boeing and Thermwood Partnership to Demonstrate New 3D Printing Technology

Boeing and Thermwood Partnership to Demonstrate New 3D Printing Technology

Barbara Sadowy

October 15, 2018

 

Boeing and Thermwood Corporation have employed additive manufacturing technology to produce a large, single-piece tool for the 777X program. The project is demonstrating that additive manufacturing is ready to produce production quality tooling for the aerospace industry.

Thermwood used a Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) machine and newly developed Vertical Layer Print (VLP) 3D printing technology to fabricate the tool as a one-piece print, eliminating the additional cost and schedule required for assembly of multiple 3D printed tooling components. In the joint demonstration program, Thermwood printed and trimmed the 12-foot-long R&D tool at its southern Indiana demonstration lab and delivered it to Boeing in August 2018. Boeing Research & Technology engineer Michael Matlack believes the use of Thermwood’s additive manufacturing technology in this application provided a significant advantage, saving weeks of time and enabling delivery of the tool before traditional tooling could be fabricated.

The tool was printed as a single piece from 20% carbon fiber reinforced ABS using the Vertical Layer Print system. Boeing purchased a Thermwood LSAM machine with the VLP functionality for the Interiors Responsibility Center (IRC) facility in Everett, Washington. The ability to quickly produce large-scale tooling at a quality level suitable for a real-world production environment represents a significant step in moving additive technology from the laboratory to the factory floor.

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